Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Intention of Motorcycling

Motorcycling is all about intention.

I see the road I intend to travel and then I'm there.

Our intention creates our reality. ~ Wayne Dyer

To make a turn, I look as far as I can see through the turn, focusing on the road ahead, until I am all of the way through the end. I don't stare at the things I pass, I don't stare at the road I'm on. I only look ahead.

If I want to pass between two objects I focus on the sliver of road I want my wheels to travel until it is behind me.

And I do not look where I've been. As I rider I only look where I am going. Perhaps a glance in the mirror from time to time, but I'm focused on the road ahead.

It's a life of intent.

If there is a pothole or an obstacle in the road, the motorcyclist must focus their attention on the safe road, away from the obstacle. This proves to be incredibly difficult, for all of us. It is a challenge that presents itself time and again and our ability to focus on the good wavers depending upon the other circumstances in our lives. But every motorcyclist knows what happens when you watch the pothole. . .

A couple of years ago Highway and I were on his motorcycle Blackbird in the Sonora Desert. We had pulled off of the interstate to visit a roadside attraction and found ourselves on a terrible, cracked, pitted road with huge chunks of asphalt missing all over. At a steady pace Highway navigated the road, focusing only on where he wanted Blackbird to go, not on all of the problems in the road.

"How did you do that?" I exclaimed when he parked the bike.

"Do what?"

As a rider he knows what to do and simply does it. He need not think about it at length. He knows to look where he intends to go.

Life is exactly like that. Look where you want to go and you will be there, before you know it. Don't focus on the obstacles, but simply let them pass by. Stay focused on the good road.

Mistakes happen. We have lapses of self pity, lose sight of our goals and our dreams, and fall into despair. We see only the rain and cry because we cannot ride the day we planned to. We see the whole world as being against us and nothing is going our way.

That's when we've not only focused on the pothole, we've fallen in and drown in our own tears.

With the push of the starter, pull of the throttle, and a kick into first gear we can begin again. Every new ride is a chance to change the road of life we choose to travel.

Ride with intention. Intend good things for yourself and don't worry if you take a wrong turn, run into bad weather or even drop your bike. You can always pick it up again and ride.

"After all, tomorrow is another day." ~ Scarlett O'Hara


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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Overpass in Columbus

We sat on the overpass in Columbus, OH waiting to turn left onto the Interstate. Sitting about 4 cars back from the red light, I looked over the road ahead to estimate the traffic I would be joining. Highway was reaching down beside his bike and I wondered if everything was alright.

He turned towards me and handed a lovely purple flower to me that he had picked from the roadside popping up between the slabs of asphalt on the overpass.

Since then, this poignant moment floods my mind a few times a day, his tender gesture done on a whim, reminding me that I am loved and I am not alone.

Two bikers, geared in leather, one offering a purple tiny flower, the other shedding a tear. It doesn't sound all that tough, all that bad ass, does it? But the way I see it, it is one of the toughest things to do. To be genuine and unafraid to show one's true self. It takes a real bad ass to look inside and see what they've run from and covered up their entire lives.

That's what we've done on this Road Pickle. Riding this many miles over this amount of time gives one an incredible amount of time to think, feel, process and learn.

This Road Pickle has been painfully enlightening; at an alarming rate peeling away the walls I've spent my life hiding behind. The same is true for my new husband, who is desperately trying to get his feet under him before uncovering yet another layer of himself. When I met and fell in love with Highway it was only a few months into the relationship that I realized I would have to let my guard down if I wanted to let myself love him. It was the hardest decision I have ever made.

I've built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It's laughter and it's loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
I had spent my life holding this as my theme song. I would sing this to myself if I felt hurt, building those walls back up again. Until Highway, my daughter Olivia and my niece Shelli were the only two who had seen inside my fortress. At times even they had been ousted to the outside, leaving me safe inside, alone. Suddenly I was standing before this man I truly wanted to connect with and had to decide whether I was going to tear the block walls down, or fall in love.

Since that moment these walls, of which I had far more than I realized, have been tumbling down. It seems every day on this Road Pickle I find out even more. Many of these revelations have been joyous, some humorous, and some incredibly painful. Right now I'm struggling with pain.

But I have that moment on the overpass in Columbus to hold onto that gets me through.

Because the most important thing I've learned in 10,000 miles, over 4 months, is the moments we choose to hold in our hearts are the ones which define our lives.

I'll hold my purple flower for now.


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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Just 8 Miles

Murphy's Motorcycle Law ~ If you leave your gear behind, it will rain.

Well, I'm sure it goes something like that.

It was just 8 miles. It had been cloudy in York, PA for two days and we hadn't seen rain in over 38 hours. We knew we were taking a short trip to see our clients, which is why we came to York, and then shoot back to the hotel.

"Are you taking your jacket?"

"No," Highway replied.

I wondered if I should take mine. I thought about it for a long time, looking at it.

"If I don't take it, it'll probably rain," I chuckled to myself.

"I'll risk it."

A few hours later we sat with our clients and noticed the lightening out of the windows. We all joked and chuckled as Highway and I mounted the bike in the light rain and backed out of the driveway. Since it was so close, I just rode with him, seeing no need to waste gas on Katie. Besides, I still love riding with Highway. It gives me a chance to squeeze on him.

As we hit the streets in their little town, I hurriedly buttoned up my denim jacket and tied my two bandannas on. Securing one on the top of my head and the other around my face was not a way to stay dry, but to keep the rain from pelting the shit out of my skin. I donned my sunglasses and squeezed Highway tight as we approached the Interstate onramp.

"Just 8 miles. . ." I kept telling myself.

"Only 8 miles."

The night sky was pitch black, becoming only darker behind my sunglasses.

"Are my headlights on?" Highway asked. He stood on his pegs and leaned forward to check them.

Indeed they were working, but I couldn't see them on the road either, even with the sunglasses off and sitting still. Roads black as coal, wet with the downpour, seemed to soak up the light and swallow it down into Hell, revoking it's existence.


Huddled up tight behind the windshield, the two of us hunched over as Highway plowed ahead on the drenched asphalt. Moving at approximately 45 mph he struggled to occasionally lift his glasses and see the invisible road, trusting only the white lines to guide our way. Fortunately the rain was neither cold nor coming down very hard. But with Highway wearing only a T-shirt and jeans, and me in little more, getting soaked took only moments.

Arriving at the hotel I began to laugh. The rain had saturated the bandanna on my head to the point of being useless, releasing the floodwaters directly into my eyes. Blinded with mascara, eyeliner and rainwater, I peeled off my glasses and dismounted. My poor, drenched husband parked the motorcycle as I laughed at myself. He didn't seem to mind the rain, seeing it only as a mere inconvenience.

After all, it was only 8 miles.

With smeared makeup and covered in soaked clothing I couldn't help but chuckle as I opened the hotel room door to be greeted with my leather jacket and helmet on the bed, right where I left them.

Sometimes Murphy knows a thing or two about motorcycling, the annoying rat bastard.



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Monday, August 5, 2013

Excess and Dust Covers

I think dust covers are to blame.

Well, more the need for dust covers. Or really the thought that we need dust covers.
I met a group of ladies who included me in their "Group" a few years ago. Later on, I was thrilled to learn I was upgraded to the "Core Group" which included only 7 of us. I deeply wanted to belong, to fit in, and continue to be accepted. What this caused me to do was assimilate and behave like the others in the group to continue to fit in. More and more of my individuality fell away as time went on.

"TINA! Oh my God! Don't do/say/act like that!"

This was often the admonishment I got from "D" for my outrageous comments.

"D" was the self imposed leader and authority on appropriate behavior, often criticizing the acts of each member, either privately with that member or to others in the group, to manipulate a particular outcome. "D" was also the quintessential victim, usually horrified by the terrible way someone would repay her friendship with betrayal. Of course to "D", betrayal came in the form of stepping out of the predetermined mold and bucking assimilation.

When "D" received her designer handbag as a gift from her place of employment as a reward for her long service, I was envious. I wanted a designer handbag so bad I ached inside. All of the other girls had designer sunglasses, handbags, shoes and clothing. Not an overwhelming amount, but they all had more than I did. I had nothing made by a designer, nor had I any shot at getting any. My husband was tight with money and very selfish. Couple that with the fact that he made very little and didn't want me to work full time, it left us pitifully broke all of the time. Designer items were simply out of reach for me, leaving me feeling unlike the other girls. I did so want to fit in, for fear of being rejected and removed from the "Core Group".

As time went on I finally did "disappoint and betray" our leader "D" and was shunned by many in the group. A few of my real friends stayed, making a point of coming to my home to let me know they weren't swayed by the pressure being put on them. It felt wonderful to have those few ladies stand by me, but the hurt from being dismissed so easily simply killed me. I still carry that hurt inside and it causes me to distrust others. I've made many, many wonderful friends since and I'm a much happier person now because of this incident, but I find that pain of rejection never really goes away.

After my divorce I started making my own money and bought many beautiful things for myself, including an expensive designer handbag. When it arrived I noticed it came with a dust cover and I reveled in the concept of this. I could have more than one beautiful, leather, designer handbag and keep them all just as pretty and fresh as new, stored safely in my closet when I wasn't using them. It seemed this is what I was supposed to do! Why would it come with a dust cover if it wasn't intended to be stored? Why not buy another?

I did the same with shoes, which also came with dust covers. Our tiny apartment in San Diego had a good sized closet that was filled to the ceiling with gorgeous shoes and handbags, lovely clothing, and trendy jewelry. Being a fan of fashion didn't help this wanton need for "MORE" stuff. I would stand in the closet and revel in my bounty, finally being the subject of envy rather than being filled with it.

What this need for acceptance caused me to do was be wasteful, consuming, excessive and frivolous. No one needs 85 pairs of shoes, 7 designer handbags, along with other non-designer bags, or enough clothes to outfit a small village.

On the road I realize how little I need. Leaving behind all of my pretty things was hard, but I knew deep inside I needed to take a break and gain some perspective. I brought only bare essentials, including a very basic black handbag provided by a sponsor of the trip. Not designer, not special, just small and practical. After deciding that we would continue this road trip for a longer time, I decided I would like to have a nicer handbag and dispose of my already worn out one. I still appreciate fine things, but now I don't need an excessive amount. When the handbag arrived today it came with a dust cover. I laughed to myself, realizing I have no use for such things any longer.

Perspective is exactly what I've found on the grey ribbon of golden striped reality. Did I really have to ride my motorcycle for so many miles and so many weeks to realize how silly it all was to compete, fit in, be accepted, and belong? I guess so. I guess I had to travel to places where I always felt like an outsider to find that I don't need to belong, that I like who I am inside, whether anyone else does or not.

I think the problem was really the dust covers.


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Friday, August 2, 2013

Riding My Life

"MOM!! OH MY GOD, MOOOOOM!!! Somebody do something! MOM!!!" my beautiful daughter sobbed at the foot of my hospital bed.

"I love you Olivia. Mark, take care of her. You two take care of each other. Remember Honey, Mommy loves you. Goodbye."

I sank into the bed, felt my soul move from my body and go into "the other side". My daughter and then-husband stood, her sobbing and him yelling, as they watched my monitors go flatlined. My heart had stopped and my lungs were no longer pushing air in and out of my body. Life had left me and I was in a "better place", for the time being.


The week before, I was so angry that the cardiologist's office had called and had changed my next appointment, citing that the doctor was very concerned about my recent test results on my heart. Had they not rescheduled my appointment for Christmas Eve at noon, I wouldn't have been so incensed, but I just knew my then-husband would be pissed. Being O.C.D.(Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) he was not good with change. For him every minute of Christmas Eve and Christmas had a schedule, the same every year with changes and/or interruptions simply unacceptable. But since I was being told this was truly a matter of life and death, I figured I had better go to the appointment.

"We need to admit you to the hospital," the cardiologist insisted. "You need an angiogram, as soon as possible. We'll admit you today to monitor you, but the soonest we can do the procedure will be two days from now, December 26th. I want you to go straight from here to our local hospital and check in. They'll be waiting for you."

Stunned, my then-husband looked at me in the doctor's presence and asked, "Who the fuck is going to cook that turkey now?" My daughter just stood and wept, worried that I was dying.

Sadly, I was not surprised by his reaction. He bitched and moaned all the way to the hospital. We stopped by home first to get a few things for my stay. Over and over he admonished me for ruining his Christmas with my selfishness by going to that appointment and now he would have to wait another year for the only day he enjoys all year long.

"Thanks, you selfish bitch. Thanks a fucking lot," he muttered as he drove.

I had become so immune to his constant bitching that I simply ignored him, focusing on how I would handle spending the time in the hospital. I hadn't even begun to think about the severity of the procedure, nor how much danger my heart condition has actually put me in.

real-biker-chickA few hours later I was being revived by a couple of nurses after being dead for 2 min 32 sec. In a state of altered consciousness I felt my soul slam back into my body after my ethereal experience. My body hurt, everywhere, and badly. Feeling heavy and thick, filled with dire pain, I groaned as I looked into my daughter's face. For the rest of my life I will remember her sad, red, wet face, and her mouth open as she screamed.

"MOOOM! Her eyes are open! Can you hear me? Oh my God, she's alive! MOM!!"

I felt guilt, instantly, for hurting her so. My then-husband just stood there, angry, not saying a word. Within 15 minutes he was ready to leave the hospital. He took Olivia and headed home, only to sulk and wallow in his self pity. I didn't see them again until 1pm on Christmas Day.

That night I barely slept, thinking about the miraculous events that had occurred and the beautiful place I had been. The amazing colors, the hum of the universe, the deep understanding I had gained of life and existence all filled my mind and warmed my heart. While I was only gone 2 1/2 minutes in life, my experience on the other side lasted hours and hours. The knowledge and peace I gained was greater than the culmination of all of the events spanning my entire life. Suddenly everything made sense and it was all so ludicrous and silly, meaningless yet more meaningful than ever before.

In the coming weeks I realized how sick I was of my situation, especially my marriage, and wanted to make changes. My daughter moved out to start her own life, and even though I missed her terribly, I was glad she was able to be independent. Soon, she met a wonderful young man and they fell in love.

For the next year I asked my husband every Friday to go to therapy with me, but he refused. After one year, to the day, I went to him and told him I was leaving. He then asked to go to therapy with me, which lasted all of 6 sessions. Each session ended with us riding home as he screamed at me, calling me a "cunt", complaining I had "thrown him under the bus." He wanted me to lie to the therapist, found it unacceptable that I would tell her our private issues, and was not going to allow me to continue this way. After 6 weeks of this insanity I separated from him and soon after, we were divorced.

It was then that my life started to take off. I started dating Highway, began taking better care of myself, and lost 70 lbs. I made many, many new friends, began traveling, started a new career and my own business, got my motorcycle endorsement and eventually, bought my own motorcycle. Now we are married, having just celebrated our one year wedding anniversary. We are riding across America with reckless abandon on our Road Pickle, enjoying life as it comes, not as we plan it. I'm no longer afraid of life or death. I've learned to live in the NOW, embrace what life brings me, and to remember that everything is temporary.

The physical pain, the emotional pain, the joy, the elation, the indifference, they all pass. Life is like riding. I can ride a thousand roads, and many of them look and feel similar, but in truth none are the same. You just keep moving and they pass by, never to be traveled in quite the same way again. Every moment that we hide, refuse to try, refuse to live, we are wasting the only thing that matters. Life is not meant to be easy; always happy, always sunny. It's meant to be many things! It's meant to rain, sometimes it's meant to hail, and sometimes the sun is meant to shine. Sometimes the sun is very hot and some nights are very dark. None of that matters. The only thing that matters, the only thing that's real, is life itself.

It took dying to teach me that I was already dead. Now I'm riding my life and I'm finally alive.


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Thursday, August 1, 2013

3 Minutes in Baltimore

Just after we entered the interstate in Baltimore, the traffic was overwhelming. I've been driving a car in Southern California for 30 years and have just crossed the country on my Kawasaki Ninja, so I know traffic. But this was astounding.

Dodging the semi that had just entered the interstate from the right, I yanked the throttle and regained my safe spot behind my husband. Even traveling at 70 mph in the heavy traffic we were still being passed like we were in second gear. With multiple signs pointing in every direction, I could see Highway trying to figure out which lane we wanted to be in. It seemed everyone in Baltimore knew the roads much better than we did.

Except that woman in the Buick.

She was exiting, not far in front of Highway, off to the right. In the split second I had to evaluate her position, I assumed she was committed to exiting because she was passed the point of legally merging back onto the interstate, nearly parallel with the grassy divider. But I assumed wrong. At less than 10 mph she jerked her wheel to the left, cut in front of us, nearly hitting Highway.

To my surprise my braking was flawless. I kept the bike straight, came nearly to a stop in a very short distance, still able to watch my mirrors as my rear tire came off the ground. I managed to avoid running into Highway as well. All I could hear was my own voice screaming in my helmet. The moment that my rear tire thumped back to the ground, I throttled again to follow my husband around her Buick and onto relative safety.

Suddenly my heart started to beat irregularly. I have had issues with atrial fibrulation in past, but I've not opted for the pacemaker. I went rogue and denied it, deciding to take my chances. The thought of being opened up and having a foriegn object situated within me was too much, not to mention the limitations it puts on a person. I wasn't ready for this type of life-changing surgery and most times I'm grateful I didn't do it. But when I get terribly startled or extremely angry, it has a way of reminding me to calm the fuck down.

Opening my visor to take in fresh air, I took slow, steady breathes inhaling deeply. I concentrated on Highway's rear tire, focusing, following and breathing. Katie Scarlet seemed to know the way and drive herself. I hung on to her to save myself, trusting she had me. My heart thumped in an odd rhythm and the pain welled up in my throat. I started to feel faint, my vision began to close in and I became weak .

I grasped the handlebars tighter, determined to stay alert. Cars were swooping in and out, all around us, regardless of the fact that we were still traveling at 70 mph. With no shoulders, traveling literally among a dozen interchanges, I realized pulling over was impossible.


Often I find my body will respond to these positive commands, almost magically. Immediately I felt better, knowing that it is always a conscious decision to quit or push on. Sure enough, just shouting at myself pulled me back into survival mode. My heart kicked back into rhythm and my energy and focus came back immediately.

We continued on our ride to New Jersey, which for the rest of the day wasn't nearly as eventful as the first 3 minutes riding in Baltimore.


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About Sash

People call me "Sash" because I'm a former beauty queen in my old home town. My father used to ride in an MC which got me interested in the culture. After my last divorce I said "goodbye" to Susie Homemaker and became the rude biker chick I always felt inside. (Read more...)